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Despite Life-Saving Efforts, Man Dies in Custody at Santa Barbara County Jail

A man in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail died on Thanksgiving after efforts were made to resuscitate him.

Jonny DeWitt, 49, of Santa Maria died after collapsing at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday while being held in the main jail’s medical dorm, said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

The coroner’s unit is conducting a death investigation, and investigators said that preliminary assessment of the evidence suggests the death occurred because of natural causes.

DeWitt had been in sheriff’s custody since Sept. 28, when he was booked on several charges, including criminal threats, unlawful possession of ammunition and drug possession, Hoover said.

On Thursday, witnesses stated that DeWitt was experiencing a medical emergency and jail personnel immediately started lifesaving efforts and called for fire and medic personnel, Hoover said.

Once those responders arrived to the scene, resuscitation continued and DeWitt was transported from the jail to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“DeWitt did not respond to the life-saving efforts, and at approximately 10:27 a.m., he was pronounced dead at the hospital,” she said.

The coroner’s unit notified DeWitt’s next of kin, and an autopsy will be conducted in the case, Hoover said.

An official cause and manner of death will be released once the investigation in complete, which could take several weeks due to the autopsy and toxicology lab reports.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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